The Topotheque is a platform which makes local, historical relevant material and knowledge, that is kept in private hands, accessible online, in cooperation with the local population.
The Topotheque is an online archive, operated in local entities. It is a regional historical source of reference, focusing not only on preserving historical material kept in private hands but also on making it visible to the public.
Topotheques already exist in a number of different European countries. This allows for a comparison of regional historical conditions on a European level, making the diversity and common grounds of every-day life tangible. As a virtual collection, the Topotheque is easily expandable and doesn’t have to comply with editorial deadlines or page limits.
Mag. Alexander Schatek is the visionary and main driving force behind the Topotheque – he remembers:
“The Topotheque started out as merely private tool kit. I intended to practically manage my private footage by indexing, dating and localization. The IT department of my enterprise in Wiener Neustadt (AT) put my idea into practice and it eventually became evident that a Topotheque would also come in handy for others – users that want to safeguard and render historic material and knowledge detectable. I am personally highly delighted about the vast reactions and feedback which show, that the desire for memory, exchange and therewith building of identities can be gratified with the principle of the Topotheques.
Thank you to everyone contributing with commitment and trust to the successful path of the Topotheque!”
The main aim of the Topotheque is to make the historical heritage of Europe digitally available via the Internet – in accordance with up-to-date indexing one can find image or file content sorted by:
- key words
- date and
- perspective on the map
… modern presentation
The diverse history of a community calls for a modern presentation: The unifying functionality of a database can accomplish the aggregation of dispersed material, documents and knowledge and step in where the sheer amount of images may overstrain the capacities of museums and local chronicles. The Topotheque may be expanded constantly, with search, link and location functionalities.
… regional preservation
Only regional forces can preserve local history comprehensively and in detail. For this reason, the Topotheque managers ought to be anchored in their municipality. With their knowledge of and familiarity with local circumstances, Topotheque managers can locate and identify relevant historical sources and in turn ensure high-quality indexing and localization of Topotheque entries.
… digital unification
With the functionality of indexation and localization, historical material dispersed in private property can be virtually unified by a Topotheque especially. For instance, searching the term “Main street 18” invokes all entries, in which this specific building is documented. Searching for terms such as “stroller” or “fieldwork” shows all images or texts that include said search terms likewise. Search results of great value can resolve from genealogical research, since many ancestors are traceable by name.
The original source material and all rights of use, which go beyond the presentation through a Topotheque, remain with the respective right holders.
Who works in a Topotheque?
Precondition for working with a Topotheque is interest and – often – volunteer support. Historical expert knowledge is not necessary. This way local history enthusiasts can participate in the maintenance. Results can be amended at any time, comments and tags can be refined continuously. Since a Topotheque is always published by an institution, it is based on editorial work. The Topotheque managers of a municipal Topotheque are responsible for the content. The validation of contributions by the Topotheque managers therefore always precedes the publication.
The cooperation of the Topotheque with regional and local organizations as well as its connection with ICARUS – the international network of archives – feeds the Topotheque the power to grow. It is this cooperation which forms the basis of ensuring the principle of the Topotheque – to secure the public accessibility to local historic sources permanently and sustainably. The efforts enabling said principles are carried out to the most extend by volunteers. The joy of providing materials and knowledge are the engine fuelling the Topotheque. We are looking forward to your collaboration!
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